Heading into its fourth season of Super Rugby things are beginning to look on-track for the Melbourne Rebels. The team has been getting increasingly better each season and more games are being won. Now in 2014, the plan that the Melbourne Rebels have set out for the future is becoming evident, and the potential looks promising.
Looking back at the first season and the inaugural squad that was formed, names such as Mortlock, Delve, Henderson, Robinson, Cordingly, Somerville, McDonald and Hilgendorf occupied the team sheets each week – all players who were heading into the final years of their careers. There were only a few young players in the team who found game time; namely Nick Phipps.
Since then the squad has gone through many changes in personnel, and careful planning means the group now harbours some of the brightest prospects in Australian rugby. The new brigade of youth players are now walking into a club that has been built upon the foundations of the older generation. When sporting clubs talk about going through a “transitional period” of “out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new”, the Melbourne Rebels essentially began its rugby union life in the middle of a transitional period, which has then allowed for a quicker development of newer players without heaping pressure onto them from day dot thanks to the like of Mortlock, Delve and co.
There still remains a handful of practiced players in the Rebels team for 2014 (such as Higginbotham, Burgess and Ellison) but the outlook of the team for the next few seasons is to help develop the highly-rated talent coming through at Melbourne.The results have been getting better for Melbourne since round 1, 2011, but how long will it be before we begin to see the Rebels push for a position in the Super Rugby finals?